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Columbia med school professor calls for President Trump to be declared a 'public health threat'

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'We are ethically bound to identify threats to the health of patients and populations'

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Raymond Givens, a cardiologist and professor at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, would like to see President Donald Trump officially declared a "public health threat."

What are the details?

In an op-ed in MedPage Today, Givens claimed that Trump is "one of the most serious threats to public health and human rights in modern American history" and that the medical community has a responsibility to declare him as such.

"We are ethically bound to identify threats to the health of patients and populations, to speak the truth even if it provokes the anger of powerful people. Refusal to do so is malpractice," Givens argued. "The [American Medical Association] Declaration of Professional Responsibility asserts that physicians have a duty to 'educate the public and polity about present and future threats to the health of humanity' and to advocate for 'political changes that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being.'"

Consequently, he wrote, "the entire American medical establishment has a duty to name Donald Trump, specifically, as a public health threat and strongly recommend that the upcoming election end his presidency."

What did he say specifically?

Givens specifically took issue with Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, throughout the lengthy diatribe characterizing Trump as chaotic, unprepared, and wantonly reckless.

President Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been chaotic at best but more often destructive. He has knowingly and repeatedly downplayed the gravity of the outbreak while hobbling the CDC and undermining public confidence in the agency when trust is needed most. He has launched attacks, often ad hominem, against our best scientists and public health experts. His supporters have followed his lead in defying masking and social distancing recommendations. Based upon exceptionally low-quality data from a grossly irresponsible study, Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as antivirals, contributing to their regrettable embrace by desperate healthcare providers in an unprecedented crisis; multiple studies have since refuted their utility, while toxicity concerns remain.

Furthermore, Givens blamed Trump for spreading the disease, noting that "amid rising caseloads across much of the country, he has held large rallies packed with barefaced attendees."

But it wasn't all about the coronavirus. Givens also excoriated Trump's supposed racism, too. At one point, he referred to the president as America's "racist-in-chief," and elsewhere he derided the fact that while racism is now considered a public health threat, Trump is not.

Medicine acknowledges racism as a public health crisis but is silent about the racist vitriol emanating from the White House. Donald Trump exploited the racist and xenophobic "birther" conspiracy against President Barack Obama, whose election unleashed a spasm of rage and resentment that Trump rode all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Candidate Trump slandered Mexican immigrants as rapists, drug dealers, and carriers of infectious disease — the last smear now particularly ironic.

It is not immediately clear what the repercussions would be should the medical community follow Givens in his condemnation.

(H/T: The College Fix)

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